Like several Island acts of the early 70s (Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, etc), Martyn was given a fairly loose roaming brief.
John Martyn: BBC Live In Concert
(Island) * * * *
FANS will know that the only predictable thing about John Martyn is his unpredictability. His live performances can touch the heights, and sometimes just bumble along.
Although his voice occasionally isn't at its best on a couple of songs in these sessions, recorded in Paris and London over a 10-year period 1, there are plenty of good (and now and then great) moments that more than compensate.
Turning the Air blue
When Solid Air came out, to huge critical acclaim and the delight of fans, John Martyn was a slim, softly-spoken man in his mid-20s, with a halo of curls and bumfluffy beard. He was a folky-hippie with a jazzy-reggae bent and ardent fan base.
John Martyn, Roundhouse, London
John Martyn's singing style and innovations with echo-effects and fuzz-box guitar pedals in the early 1970s were influenced by the free-jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. On the albums Bless The Weather, Solid Air and Inside Out, he set out to replicate Sanders's incredibly long sustains with his voice and guitar playing.
Riffs & Legends
HE comes on stage in his wheelchair, his arms held out like a plane. By his own admission, John Martyn is often flying.
The collapse of a marriage (or two) has proven to be creatively satisfying for the likes of Abba, Fleetwood Mac and Marvin Gaye, but few accounts of love-gone-wrong come anywhere close to the emotional impact of Martyn's 1980 release
John Martyn has mortality on his mind. "I spent last night praying for death," he told the crowd at this most eagerly awaited of Celtic Connections shows, before speculating that he might just expire on stage right in front of them.
Pushed on, playing aeroplanes in his wheelchair, Martyn kept up a steady flow of gallows humour.
Live and kicking
John Martyn's 1970s folk-fusion experiments with the Echoplex guitar pedal have lent him the lazy label 'godfather of trip-hop', but this is to damn him with ludicrously faint praise.
Soaring on Solid Air
David Cheal reviews John Martyn at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge
On the sleeve of his classic 1973 album Solid Air, John Martyn looks young, fresh and alive, his skin cherub-smooth, his features sharp and defined.
Today, aged 58, the Anglo-Scottish singer, songwriter and guitarist is a big, big man, with a face ballooned and ravaged by time, and a body that's largely wheelchair-bound following the loss of his lower right leg through an infected cyst in 2003.